Look up at the trees and feel the wind and rain on your face. Stand on the bluff at Ebey’s Prairie and watch the clouds fly past you, as you work to keep upright in the strong winds that buffet the coast line.
This is Whidbey Island: home to writers, dancers, musicians, and so many visual artists. You could hardly throw a rock without hitting one. Ouch! Hey! Watch where you’re throwing those rocks!
What is it about certain places that draw people who chose to create works of art?
It’s the beauty of the place, for sure. But I think there is more than just that. I think it is the very nature of a Whidbey winter, the harsh winds, dark skies, rocky beaches, and frequent drizzle draws us to this place. Those days when the sun never seems to rise and the fog obscures the trees surrounding my house: those are the days I most feel the pull to create, to wrap myself in my studio like a blanket, and make something beautiful. To pull from my memory and the images of places I have visited and collected, to feed my creative urges, can only happen in the quiet stillness of this place.
As I drive down the roads, surrounded by tall trees or open meadows, I hear a soundtrack that does not come from my radio. I can only imagine that the musicians who are drawn to this place feel it, hear it too, and they must give voice to that music that seems to come from the trees themselves.
There is no logical explanation as to why so many artists settle here, but come here they have, since long before I arrived 28 years ago.
I believe that there is strong magic in places like this. Yes, you can be creative anywhere, and you would be hard pressed to find a place that didn’t have an artist or two, a writer or a few musicians. Large cities provide easy access: to audiences, to materials, to high-test coffee, to day jobs, and many artists settle in urban places for these reasons. But those who can leave the noise of the cities behind, in order to clear their heads of the competing sounds, are drawn to places like Whidbey.
I left Seattle to do just that: clear the cacophony of the city from my head, so that I could hear inside my thoughts, isolate those reveries and fix them to a canvas. There were already many artists living here. Hedgebrook Colony for Writers had just opened in the previous year, and since then hundreds of women writers have eaten at the big farmhouse table, shut out the clamor of the world and written hundreds of stories, books, plays. Multiple musical organizations thrive here: String quartets; chamber orchestras; an award winning high school jazz band. There are alluring art galleries, bursting with the creations produced by Whidbey’s painters, sculptors, glass blowers, printmakers, photographers, and jewelers.
This blog is a portal to the creative imagination of this place.
My intention is to help the arts of Whidbey Island find a wider audience: to invite the world at large into the secret that most who live here, artist and audience alike, already know. I believe that the soul of a community is embedded in its creative expression. I believe that through making art, in all it’s many guises, we can resist the darkness. Once or twice a month I’ll share my thoughts, my conversations with members of the creative community here, with you. Through the individual stories I hope to impart a more universal truth, one that might enhance the lives of all who read this blog and partake of what the art communities of Whidbey have to offer.
In this season of giving thanks, I am thankful for this opportunity by the Whidbey Island Arts Council to write this blog. I hope you enjoy it.
The Carols of Christmas with Island Consort
Sunday December 10th
Langley United Methodist Church
301 Anthes St. Langley